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6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” 12Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

 

Acts 15:6 begins the debate in Jerusalem Council, and it runs through verse 21. First, Peter’s speech defended salvation by grace (vv. 7-11), then James’s (vv. 13-21). Paul and Barnabas reported on Gentile conversions (Acts 15:13).

15:6

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

Evidently, Paul and Barnabas gave their report to the leaders before the beginning of the Council (Ga 2:2). The 12 apostles plus elders of the church were present.

15:7

And when there had been much dispute,

An extended debate occurred over the issue of keeping the law and circumcision.

Peter rose up and said to them:

Peter is the first to support salvation and sanctification by grace at the Council publicly.

“Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

Peter harked back to his experience of unclean animals coming down in a sheet from heaven (Acts 10:1-48). He presented the gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile military officer, on that occasion. Peter’s point was that the issue had been settled years ago.

This verse is the last mention of Peter in Acts. God put the focus on Paul from this point.

15:8

So God, who knows the heart,

Peter’s argument was that Gentiles genuinely believed in Christ.

acknowledged them [Gentiles] by giving them the Holy Spirit,

God gave Gentiles the Holy Spirit upon their conversion. Only genuine believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ro 8:9; 1 Co 6:19; 12:13; Ga 3:14; 4:6).

just as He did to us,

God’s giving of the Holy Spirit to Gentiles here was the same reality as in Acts 2 and other occasions where believers received the Spirit upon conversion.

15:9

and made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith.

Peter argued that there was no distinction between a Jew and a Gentile convert.

15:10

Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

God did not burden Gentiles with the yoke of the law, which Jews themselves could not keep. To claim that something should be added to justification by faith was to put a qualification of salvation on the Gentiles that God did not require.

15:11

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Peter concluded his speech by saying that grace, not works, is God’s method of salvation. His statement became the official verdict of the Jerusalem Council.

15:12

Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

After Peter’s speech, the multitude kept quiet when listening to Barnabas and Paul’s report on what God did among the Gentiles on their first missionary journey. In this event, Peter ended the argument of the opposition. God used miracles and wonders on Paul and Barnabas’s first mission tour.                                                                

PRINCIPLE:

To add anything to the gospel other than faith in Christ’s work is to put God to the test.

APPLICATION:

If people challenge the gospel of grace, they put God to the test. In essence, they question God’s method of salvation (Acts 5:9). When we add a performance condition to salvation, we “test” God.

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